This recipe for spicy Korean Kimchi is incredibly easy to prepare and equally delicious to eat. This is a vegan version of a traditional kimchi recipe and can be used as a base for creating other variations of this nutritious fermented food.
I first tried Korean Kimchi years ago when my brother was dating a lovely Japanese woman. Together, they dedicated the entire lower section of their fridge to her expert kimchi jars, no doubt to feed their (and their visitors’) taste for this delicious food. She had a knack for making all things pickled, but even after her careful instruction, I was not able to replicate her recipes at home.
I had all but given up on my skills as a home kimchi maker until I can across the base recipe for this, now-refined vegetarian kimchi recipe.
Why fermented foods?
Many traditional cultures include fermented foods as part of their diet: yoghurt, sauerkraut, pickles, buttermilk, kombucha, kefir, tempeh, lassi and of course, Korean kimchi. These types of fermented foods contain a range of natural cultures that support the immune system and digestion. In a nutshell, fermented foods provide the body with essential micro bacteria to encourage a healthy balance of flora in our gut.
Traditionally fermented foods are considered to be natural probiotic foods, literally meaning pro-life foods. To read a little more about probiotics, have a look at our article: Probiotic v’s Prebiotic What Are the Differences?
Variations on the Vegetarian Kimchi Recipe
I have made kimchi several times using this recipe and find that it is slightly different each time. Temperature and fermentation time will influence the sourness of this food as will the way that you prepare your vegetables, finely chopped vegetables will produce a more juicy kimchi.
If you want a more authentic and juicier kimchi, Napa cabbage, roughly chopped will make a totally different kimchi. You can experiment with different vegetables, add different radishes or include some finely chopped chives to vary the recipe and have a bit of fun with fermenting.
This traditionally based kimchi recipe uses Korean red pepper flakes, which are available in oriental food stores, however, they can be challenging to get hold of. My research shows that Korean red pepper flakes are quite similar to regular red pepper flakes, if you use these as a substitute, you may just need to adjust the amount to suit your taste.
Introducing Fermented Foods Into The Diet
Some fermented foods can take a little getting used to, and this vegetarian kimchi can be quite flavoursome. Begin introducing fermented foods in small amounts as wind and bloating can be an after-effect of using too much too quickly.
Traditional kimchi is included with many Korean dishes to enhance flavour and digestion, including it with rice, vegetables, and meats. I also like to include kimchi with salads or on top of open sandwiches or crackers (think pesto, hummus, cucumber, green leafies, sprouts and kimchi).
Vegetarian Kimchi Recipe
This recipe for spicy Korean Kim Chi is incredibly easy to prepare and equally delicious to eat. This is a vegan version of a traditional kimchi recipe and can be used as a base for creating other variations of this nutritious fermented food.
For the seasoning
Start by cleaning and washing your vegetables and chop or julienne to your required size.
Place your vegetables in a large bowl and cover with the mixture of natural salt and water. Make sure the brine is thoroughly combined with the vegetables and then place a heavy weight inside the bowl to weigh down the vegetables. I use an up-turned plate with a bottle filled with water to make sure that the vegetables are completely immersed in the brine.
Allow this mixture to sit for 4-5 hours.
Next, you need to drain the vegetables, rinse thoroughly in clean water and squeeze out any remaining liquid. Pour your vegetables back into your cleaned and dried bowl.
In a small bowl, combine the seasoning ingredients, and then add these to your vegetables. I usually wear a pair of gloves while I thoroughly massage the seasoning into the vegetables.
Once you have all of the ingredients mixed through, begin to pack your kimchi into your sterilised large glass jar. Pack your jars firmly, but not tight, and secure with a lid.
You will need to leave your jar of kimchi to ferment at room temperature for 2-3 days, I usually place the jar on a plate to catch any drips. In warmer weather, your kimchi may be ready in just one day.
You will be able to notice when your kimchi is 'done' by its distinctive sweet fermented smell. Once your kimchi is ready, keep it in the fridge to prevent further fermenting. It will last for several weeks in the fridge, or until you gobble it all up.